Good morning! Welcome to the Cover 9@9 blog. It’s our weekly list of nine things at 9 a.m. Wednesday that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons.
1. Falcons must manage Jones situation: The lines are drawn.
The Falcons have their position and Julio Jones has his.
The Falcons must manage it properly so that it doesn’t go sideways on them. The team has a point about wanting to take care of Jones next season, but will that be enough to appease Jones.
The Falcons don’t need the situation to turn ugly.
If things get real nasty, Jones could be expected to return around the NFL trading deadline, which is Oct. 30. The Falcons will have played seven games by the trading deadline.
“Sometimes players decide ‘I don’t want money anymore. I want out of town,’” said Joel Corry of CBSSports.com told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’ve been through that situation as well. In 2003, with (Tampa Bay wide receiver) Keenan McCardell. He had two years left and it was apparent that Tampa wasn’t going to pay him. Our strategy shifted to do everything we can to get out of town. He got traded to the Chargers at the trading deadline.”
Last season, Houston traded offensive lineman Duane Brown to Seattle at the trading deadline after it became apparent they were not going to reach a deal.
The Falcons have to figure out a way to make Jones happy, while also keeping their long-term salary cap management structure in place.
“Camp Julio” is set to start with the players reporting on Thursday. The first practice is Friday.
2. Falcons worth $2.475 billion: The Falcons are the 29th most valuable sports franchise in the world, according to Forbes, with a worth $2.4 billion. Owner Arthur Blank purchased the team for $541 million in 2002 after stepping down as co-chairman of Home Depot.
3. Jones leverage: Jones, a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, caught 88 passes for 1,444 yards and three touchdowns last season. He’s the team’s top offensive weapon.
The Falcons, with Jones on board, are Super Bowl contenders. Without Jones, they would likely be an 8-8 team.
“That’s where his power is,” Corry said. “They don’t have anyone who could remotely replace him in the passing game. They have Super Bowl aspirations, but at the same time they don’t want to do anything. Teams hate establishing new precedent.”
4. On deck for deals: The Falcons have put a priority on contract extensions for defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, left tackle Jake Matthews and free safety Ricardo Allen.
“There is more urgency because they have expiring contracts whereas Julio’s (contract) doesn’t,” Corry said. “That’s where the Falcons want to focus their attention.”
5. Cellini Poll. Fans are siding with the team according to poll on 680TheFan’s Nick Cellini’s twitter page.
6. 2018 average per year for WRs: Antonio Brown, Steelers: $17 million; Mike Evans, Bucs: $16.5 million; Brandin Cooks, Rams: $16 million; DeAndre Hopkins, Texans: $16.2 million; Sammy Watkins, Chiefs: $16 million; Jarvis Landry, Browns: $15.1 million; A.J. Green, Bengals: $15 million; Davante Adams, Packers: $14.5 million; (ninth) Julio Jones, Falcons: $14.2 million.
7. More twitter reaction: Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell checked in on Jones’ situation.
8. Training camp open practices: The Falcons open the 2018 training camp as players report to the Flowery Branch headquarters on Thursday and the first practice is held on Friday.
9. Training camp prep: You’ve been off watching the World Cup and need to get ready for training camp? Well, you can get up to speed quickly with our 10-part position-by-position look at the Falcons 90-man roster.
Here’s the working depth chart. We’ll get he first “unofficial” one from the team before the exhibition season opener against the Jets on Aug. 10:
WR 11 Julio Jones, 18, Calvin Ridley, 14 Justin Hardy, 13 Reggie Davis, 86 Lamar Jordan, 16 Taj Williams
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 68 Austin Pasztor, 76 Daniel Brunskill
LG 67 Andy Levitre, 63 Ben Garland, 64 Sean Harlow, 75 Jamil Douglas
C 51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland, 61 J.C. Hassenauer
RG 65 Brandon Fusco, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 62 Salesi Uhatafe
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 74 Ty Sambrailo, 77 Matt Gono
TE 81 Austin Hooper, 82 Logan Paulsen, 85 Eric Saubert, 89 Alex Gray, 80 Troy Mangen, 87 Jaeden Graham
WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 17 Marvin Hall, 83 Russell Gage, 15 Christian Blake, 19 Dontez Byrd, 7 Devin Gray
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 9 Grayson Garrett, 6 Kurt Benkert
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 25 Ito Smith, 41 Terrence Magee, 32 Justin Crawford, 35 Malik Williams
FB 40 Daniel Marx, 43 Luke McNitt, 30 Ricky Ortiz
DE 98 Takk McKinley, 50 Brooks Reed, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, 96 Mackendy Cheridor
DT 99 Terrell McClain, 94 Deadrin Senat, 93 Garrison Smith,
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jack Crawford, 92 Justin Zimmer, 99 Jon Cunningham
DE 44 Vic Beasley, 90 Derrick Shelby, 55 J’Terius Jones
WLB 42 Duke Riley, 54 Foyesade Oluokun
MLB 45 Deion Jones, 52 Emmanuel Ellerbe, 53 Emmanuel Smith
SLB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 56 Anthony Winbush, 49 Richard Jarvis
CB 23 Robert Alford, 20 Isaiah Oliver, 28 Justin Bethel, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 39 Deante Burton
CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 34 Brian Poole, 35 Leon McFadden, 43 Chris Lammons
NB 34 Brian Poole, 27 Damontae Kazee, 42 Tyson Graham, 30 Joseph Putu
FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Damontae Kazee, 38 Marcelis Branch, 41 Jason Hall
SS 22 Keanu Neal, Ron Parker, 35 Secdrick Cooper
K 3 Matt Bryant, 1 David Marvin
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 14 Justin Hardy, 17 Marvin Hall, 30 Ito Smith
PR 14 Justin Hardy, 16 Reggie Davis
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher